You know the feeling – I was reading the other night and made a note to remember to look up a word I came across. If you don’t look up strange words in books or read books with strange words, you’re probably not reading this. So I’ll never mind about that.
Anyway, anthropophagic. There, I said it. Gross, sure, but I didn’t know the term. It means, basically, cannibalistic, and I’m sure Kazantzakis what getting at something good when he used it. Sarcophagus is also kind of gross, when you realize what it means.
By the time I remembered to look it up (just now) I was on to something else, so I’m fitting it in a bit oddly, I’m afraid. The goal of eating is not cheap food. That won’t come as a shock, I hope, but it’s instructive in its way when we relate it to other activities we engage in. We have approached eating and food acquisition as activities that should be completed as quickly and cheaply as possible, with minimum effort, price and enjoyment. In doing so we have done great harm to ourselves physically but also we’ve lost many more delicious aspects of eating that has nothing to do with taste – though we’ve greatly mucked that up, too. No, here of course I mean that we have eliminated discussions and arguments about other cultural artifacts that occur during meals. This is a crucial loss, equaled only by the quality of the cheap food that we ingest, that must be farmed on a mammoth scale in order to be cheap, that require prodigious amounts of petroleum fertilizer, again, in order to be cheap. All because we no longer like to talk over dinner.
Travel is much the same. The goal of moving around seems to be cheap trips. Wrong. The goal of traveling is much more pernicious to our sense of place, pride and perfection that that. It enhances one and inhibits the others, or changes them into something more problematic and in need of further investigation and more traveling. And it can get expensive. But what moving about on the cheap does to us is the key, and especially when travel is prioritized only on the basis of its cheapness, its harmful effects are most on display. When you can move around on a whim and eat for nothing, you become impatient with all other complexities – of palate, of locale, of politics, of… sutras. You name it. When we turn to whimsical, cheap entertainments to pasturize our neglected imaginations, we greatly succeed.
And it’s hard to turn back, to break the habits of ease. We construct all-or-nothing scenarios where the choice is between McDo and hunting/gathering, and do our selves no favors by it. Put a little more consideration into where you go, how you get there, what you put into your body… pretty soon the monstrous implications of life on the cheap go away. There can be no hand-made global climate change. You just can’t do it, my friends.
You can look it up.